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Spyware The Peeping Toms Of The Web

(category: Security, Word count: 426)
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While the internet is a great tool for research, or for just keeping in touch with e-mail or looking for a perfect gift, there is an annoying problem that is becoming increasingly dangerous for your computer. While everyone understands what a computer virus does, many people are still relatively unaware of the problem that is Spyware.

Spyware is another word for Advertising Supported software (Adware). There are several large media companies that place banner ads and pop-ups on certain web pages in exchange for a portion of the revenue from banner sales. This is the front for the more harmful Spyware that almost always comes along with it behind the scenes. While the banner placement may be a great concept, the downside is that the advertising companies also install tracking software on your system, which is continuously "calling home" and using your Internet connection to report on everything on your computer and everywhere you go, and then reports this information back to the source program. While every site you may visit may have a privacy policy about not sharing information, the fact remains that someone put a program on your PC that is sending non-stop information about you and your surfing habits to someone else.

Although Spyware is something that because of its very nature seems like it should be illegal, it actually is not, though there are obviously major privacy issues. Spyware also has a tendency to open your computer up to receiving more computer viruses, which is another reason why someone should look at removing any Spyware from their computer. Spyware detection and removal software often comes with security software like Norton or MacAfee, but there are also plenty of programs out there that exist for the specific purpose of finding and removing Spyware. Any detailed research will help you find programs that you can download to your computer in order to take care of these problems.

There is also the type of Spyware that can be intentionally downloaded to a computer. This type is most often used by parents or guardians to get a monthly report to find out all the various web sites people in their household have visited over the past month. In some Christian circles, a particular type of Spyware has become popular, where a certain group of friends will receive a monthly list of every web site visited in the past month, as an "accountability" thing. Otherwise, most Spyware is best removed from a computer as soon as it is found.

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How To Recognize Ebay Scams

(category: Security, Word count: 875)
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Shopping and selling on eBay can be one of the most rewarding experiences on the Internet. However you need to be careful of scam artists who will try to take advantage of you through various types of fraud. If you do get scammed on eBay there are ways you can get your money back. However, it is very difficult to ever catch the fraud artist and it is a lot simpler if you can recognize and avoid frauds from the beginning.

One of the scams that are very common today is fake e-mails that appear to originate from eBay or PayPal or even your bank. Keep in mind that anybody can spoof any e-mail address and send an e-mail that appears to be from somebody else. It is even possible to spoof an e-mail coming from the president of the United States. So when you see any e-mail in your inbox that comes from eBay or PayPal and asks you to log in to confirm your password the chances are that this is a scam. E-mails that you receive of this type will have eBay letterheads or PayPal letterheads and will direct you to a link that appears to be eBay or PayPal. However, if you look closely at the bottom of your browser you'll generally see that the domain these links point to is not actually an eBay or PayPal domain. It just looks like eBay's web site, but it is actually a scam site asking you to confirm your password. Once you put in your username and password the fraud artist has it. One of the more popular tactics being used right now is to send a fake payment notification from PayPal suggesting that you have paid for something which you did not buy. The e-mail and includes a link right in the center that says "dispute this charge", and once you click on that link you are taken to a page that looks like PayPal but is actually a fraudulent web site designed to get you to enter your username and password.

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself on eBay is to use PayPal for all transactions. PayPal is a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay, and so transactions that are paid for via PayPal can be easily disputed. Since it is in eBay's interest to maintain a secure shopping environment they are generally very quick to resolve disputes that originate by PayPal. If you buy an item and are not satisfied with it and feel like the seller did not deliver what he promised, it is far easier to dispute that transaction fee with PayPal because eBay can reverse the funds themselves. If you purchased by money order or credit card or some other payment method, eBay does not have the opportunity to reverse charges without going through a third-party.

Whether you are buying or selling items is a good idea to stick with PayPal. If you are selling items it is a good idea to only except PayPal as a payment option. The last thing you need is to get a bad check, or have your buyer dispute his credit card charge. If you have fulfilled your end of the seller's bargain, then all you'll need to do is prove that to PayPal and eBay without involving a third-party. Generally speaking, if a buyer is unhappy with a product that you sold and does not consider the product to be in the condition advertised, then you should demand that the product be returned before you issue a refund.

In order to sell on eBay effectively you need to learn how to use reserve pricing. One of the most common schemes on eBay is for someone using multiple accounts to place a low bid and a high bid simultaneously under different aliases. This ties up your auction at the high bid price and allows of the fraud to be carried out when the high bid buyer declines to pay and you are confronted with a low second bid. This scam is effective because the seller feels obligated to sell the item to the second-highest bidder once the auction has fallen through with the top bidder. Placing a reserve is essential to avoid this kind of scam so be sure to set a reserve price at the point where you would not sell the product for any less.

It is worthwhile to note right on your auction page that you reserve the right to back out of selling an item if you suspect fraud. While it is easy to get scammed as a buyer it is even easier to get scammed as a seller. Sellers generally have more experience and can recognize these scams, but you should be aware of the pitfalls of selling upfront before you start selling items on eBay.

EBay is a very safe and secure way to shop if you use it wisely and remain aware of how fraud occurs. It is important to always report suspicious activity directly to the eBay or PayPal. Since they have a vested interest in assuring that reliable transactions occur without fraud you can be sure that they will do their best to prevent illegal fraudulent activity.

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How To Avoid Getting Into Identity Theft Trouble

(category: Security, Word count: 646)
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The credit card industry seems to be growing at an unprecedented rate. According to some statistical reports, the average American household has at least one credit card. In fact, from the total respondents in the survey, 81% of the households have at least one credit card.

This goes to show that more and more people are enticed to get their own credit card. The reasons for doing so are based on the fact that credit cards offer extreme cashless shopping convenience. Hence, everybody seems to be motivated to get at least one credit card.

However, the travails of the credit card industry do not end here. This is because the reality that evolves on the credit cards does not just depend on the way people use credit cards but with the way on how they use it and protect themselves.

What people do not realize is that the manner on how they use their credit cards can greatly affect the way they live. For instance, frauds and fraudulent activities are very prevalent in the industry and the best targets of the culprits are those who use credit cards whenever they are into shopping.

People should take note that one of the most prevalent credit card scams in the society today is the identity theft. In fact, it has been reported by the FBI that almost 350,000 up to 500,000 cases of identity theft are known to exist in the U.S. every single year.

Basically, identity theft is when some unscrupulous people try to get some information from you such as your social security number and other pertinent personal and financial data.

These sets of information are used deceitfully by these people for their own benefits. Hence, the poor victim does not realize that his identity was stolen and that his financial future is doomed.

For this reason, it is important to know how to avoid getting into trouble. Here is how:

1. Protect your personal data and any financial information

Never entertain phone calls that require you to give any personal data or information, even if the caller says he is from the bank that issued your credit card and that the information gathering is just some sort of verifications.

If this is the case, try to inform him that you wish to do the transactions personally. Hence, it is important to very if the caller is, indeed, a representative of the bank.

2. Avoid freebies and offers that involve credit cards

If you were offered with some promotions requiring you to give some personal information, then, it would be better not to entertain the promo at all.

Things like these will only entice you to try it. In the end, it is too late to realize that you have just been a victim of an identity theft.

3. Have a regular check up on your credit standing and bills

Most of credit card holders are so lazy to do regular check ups on their status. If you do this, it will be easier for you to detect any probable identity theft case on your part. Credit reports can definitely tell you if there were purchases that you know that you did not make.

4. Do not carry them around

The problem with most people is that they ten to carry their cards wherever they are. This is a bad habit that should be stopped. You will never know what will happen while you are in a public place, where identity theft could just be lurking around, waiting for its next victim.

The bottom line is that credit card users should be responsible enough not to allow these fraudulent activities to happen. Keep in mind that the reason why these kinds of frauds exist is that there are people who are unconsciously victimized every now and then.

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5 Mistakes You Might Be Making When Choosing A Password

(category: Security, Word count: 357)
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Are you making yourself a target for fraud? More and more often I am hearing stories of people who have had their accounts hacked. They have had money stolen, lost sleep, spent hours setting up new accounts, or had their credit ruined. Don't let this happen to you.

Are you making these dangerous mistakes?

Mistake #1: Using the same password for all your accounts.

Please don't do this. Use different passwords for every email account, and definitely use unique passwords for shopping websites where you'd enter your credit card.

Mistake #2: Short passwords

The risk of someone guessing your password is increasingly difficult the more characters are in it. So, go for the gusto and make your passwords long.

Mistake #3: BradPitt, Charlie, Sarah, Princess, Barbie, Gandolf - Did I guess it yet?

Do not use kids' names, pet's name, nicknames, names from characters in books or movies or celebrity names. Even if I didn't guess it in my list, someone who knows you could.

Mistake #4: Easy to remember English words

Easy to remember is also easy to guess. Passwords should not contain English words found in a dictionary. Non-English words or any words in any dictionary are a high risk as well. And, for goodness sakes, if your password is "password" or "test" then it's a wonder you haven't been hacked yet!

Mistake #5: Numbers are no-no's.

Seriously, stay away from birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, social security numbers or telephone numbers. They are all too easy to guess.

Choose random passwords for banking sites like PayPal. Combine letters (both uppercase and lowercase) and numbers.

If all of this sounds too hard to remember, then consider using a Password program. Most of the good password programs will not only store your passwords on your computer, but they'll generate completely random passwords when you need one.

Here are a few to try.http://www.fgroupsoft.com/Traysafe/http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/http://www.treepad.com/treepadsafe/It's never a good time to find out that someone has stolen money from you - or locked you out of your own email account. It's a waste of your time and money. Please protect yourself.

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How Bad Guys Hack Into Websites Using Sql Injection

(category: Security, Word count: 946)
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SQL Injection is one of the most common security vulnerabilities on the web. Here I'll try to explain in detail this kind of vulnerabilities with examples of bugs in PHP and possible solutions.

If you are not so confident with programming languages and web technologies you may be wondering what SQL stay for. Well, it's an acronym for Structured Query Language (pronounced "sequel"). It's "de facto" the standard language to access and manipulate data in databases.

Nowadays most websites rely on a database (usually MySQL) to store and access data.

Our example will be a common login form. Internet surfers see those login forms every day, you put your username and password in and then the server checks the credentials you supplied. Ok, that's simple, but what happens exactly on the server when he checks your credentials?

The client (or user) sends to the server two strings, the username and the password.

Usually the server will have a database with a table where the user's data are stored. This table has at least two columns, one to store the username and one for the password. When the server receives the username and password strings he will query the database to see if the supplied credentials are valid. He will use an SQL statement for that that may look like this:

SELECT * FROM users WHERE username='SUPPLIED_USER' AND password='SUPPLIED_PASS'

For those of you who are not familiar with the SQL language, in SQL the ' character is used as a delimiter for string variables. Here we use it to delimit the username and password strings supplied by the user.

In this example we see that the username and password supplied are inserted into the query between the ' and the entire query is then executed by the database engine. If the query returns any rows, then the supplied credentials are valid (that user exists in the database and has the password that was supplied).

Now, what happens if a user types a ' character into the username or password field? Well, by putting only a ' into the username field and living the password field blank, the query would become:

SELECT * FROM users WHERE username="' AND password="

This would trigger an error, since the database engine would consider the end of the string at the second ' and then it would trigger a parsing error at the third ' character. Let's now what would happen if we would send this input data:

Username: ' OR 'a'='a

Password: ' OR 'a'='a

The query would become

SELECT * FROM users WHERE username=" OR 'a'='a' AND password=" OR 'a'='a'

Since a is always equal to a, this query will return all the rows from the table users and the server will "think" we supplied him with valid credentials and let as in - the SQL injection was successful :).

Now we are going to see some more advanced techniques.. My example will be based on a PHP and MySQL platform. In my MySQL database I created the following table:

CREATE TABLE users (

username VARCHAR(128),

password VARCHAR(128),

email VARCHAR(128))

There's a single row in that table with data:

username: testuser

password: testing

email: testuser@testing.com

To check the credentials I made the following query in the PHP code:

$query="select username, password from users where username='".$user."' and password='".$pass."'";

The server is also configured to print out errors triggered by MySQL (this is useful for debugging, but should be avoided on a production server).

So, last time I showed you how SQL injection basically works. Now I'll show you how can we make more complex queries and how to use the MySQL error messages to get more information about the database structure.

Lets get started! So, if we put just an ' character in the username field we get an error message like

You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near "" and password="' at line 1

That's because the query became

select username, password from users where username="' and password="

What happens now if we try to put into the username field a string like ' or user='abc ?

The query becomes

select username, password from users where username=" or user='abc ' and password="

And this give us the error message

Unknown column 'user' in 'where clause'

That's fine! Using these error messages we can guess the columns in the table. We can try to put in the username field ' or email=' and since we get no error message, we know that the email column exists in that table. If we know the email address of a user, we can now just try with ' or email='testuser@testing.com in both the username and password fields and our query becomes

select username, password from users where username=" or email='testuser@testing.com' and password=" or email='testuser@testing.com'

which is a valid query and if that email address exists in the table we will successfully login!

You can also use the error messages to guess the table name. Since in SQL you can use the table.column notation, you can try to put in the username field ' or user.test=' and you will see an error message like

Unknown table 'user' in where clause

Fine! Let's try with ' or users.test=' and we have

Unknown column 'users.test' in 'where clause'

so logically there's a table named users :).

Basically, if the server is configured to give out the error messages, you can use them to enumerate the database structure and then you may be able to use these informations in an attack.

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Internet Safety And Computer Monitoring

(category: Security, Word count: 532)
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For eight years now, I have been involved in searching for missing and abducted children and have been an advocate for child safety. Parents are scared every time they see a news story about yet another abducted or missing child.

"What if that were my child?" "What would I do if I were that child's parent?" "Why didn't that child's parents do more to keep their child safe?" "How can I keep this from happening to my child?"

Those are just a few of the questions that go through any parents mind when they hear about a child becoming the victim of a child sex predator or just any child that is missing without a clue. In some of these stories, the child or teenager first met someone online, then began to trust that person, then met them offline and disappeared.

When talking about Internet Safety, that is of course the worst case scenario. Other issues involve not wanting your child to be exposed to pornography, not wanting to have your child exposed to people who will make sexual advances to them online, and not wanting your child to do anything that might put them or even you at risk.

It is a very real problem that all parents need to address. Ignore what your children and teenagers do online at your own peril. If they are more computer literate than you are, it makes it even more difficult to know how to monitor their online activities. In addition to that, you feel as a parent you shouldn't be "snooping" on them.

Your children can benefit greatly by being allowed to use the Internet. These days they can learn more online than they ever will in just school alone. They need both, so you have to find a way to balance the need for your children to go online with making sure they are safe online.

Fortunately there are programs available that can help you achieve that balance. The first thing you need to do is make sure your child knows about safety. In the footer of this article will be a link to the Kidsearch Network Website and to RunawayTeens.org where you will find the information they need to learn and what you as a parent need to know. There is even tools you can use to test your child to see how much they have learned.

The second step is to get a program like Online Safety Shield. Whether you tell your children or teenager it is there or not, the program will monitor everything that is done on each computer you install it on. It will allow you to flag certain keywords that you are concerned about your child encountering or that will associate with websites that are on that topic.

The bottom line is that Internet Safety is something that every parent has to be concerned about. Your children need to be able to make use of this great tool for learning, however you need to have some peace of mind that they are using it wisely. Learn more. Teach more. Be an "involved" parent. Your child's life may depend on it.

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Is Your Computer Really Safe

(category: Security, Word count: 358)
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The majority of business transactions today are conducted online, which in turn has caused computers to become household necessities. But as the internet continues to flourish, the rise of internet crimes seems endless. With the emergence of computer malware such as viruses, worms, spyware/adware we are constantly placing ourselves at risk by simply turning our computers on. The problem has become so widespread that Congress prepared changes in amendments specifically related to internet crimes. In 2003 the National Cyber Security Alliance reported that 90% of all broadband users have spyware installed on their computers! Corporations and small business owners worldwide are hiring software engineers or utilizing their own IT specialists in order to maintain appropriate internet security for their business.

Spyware/Adware is the latest form of internet intrusion, being any software installed on your computer without your knowledge or consent which allows information about you and/or your computer to be seen and used by others in an unwelcome manner. Being very difficult to remove on your own it usually requires installation of anti-spyware software to erase it completely from your hard drive. A lot of people think that their anti-virus software will protect against spyware as well, this is not the case since this software is not designed to specifically remove spyware, it goes undetected when your hard drive is scanned. Whether you're a small business owner or even if you just use your computer on a regular basis, if don't have some type of antivirus and anti-spyware protection installed on your computer you are extremely visible on the web (you want to be "invisible" when browsing the web) and are placing yourself at risk to intrusion and/or theft by internet predators. I would know since I had to pay $225 just to have viruses removed from my computer's hard drive-which is never any fun by the way. So as a word of caution, make sure your information will be safe before placing it on your PC. You can visit Trend Micro to learn more about what to look for and how to protect yourself from malware, phishing sites, and, joke programs.

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Fight Back Against Identity Theft

(category: Security, Word count: 388)
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Identity theft is a serious crime that costs American consumers billions of dollars and countless hours each year. It occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.

While you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, encourages consumers to Deter, Detect and Defend to help cut down on identity theft.

Deter

Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information:

(*) Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.

(*) Protect your Social Security number. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.

(*) Don't give out personal information via the phone, mail or the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.

Detect

Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements. Be alert to signs that require immediate attention, such as: bills that do not arrive as expected; unexpected credit cards or account statements; denials of credit for no apparent reason; and calls or letters about purchases you did not make.

Defend

If you think your identity has been stolen, here's what to do:

1. Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert.

2. Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

3. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the report or, at the very least, the number of the report, to submit to your creditors and others who may require proof of the crime.

4. File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps officials learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that they can better assist you.

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Protect Your Privacy

(category: Security, Word count: 86)
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The internet is evolving rapidly as its uses grow in number and variety. More and more users are shopping online, chatting with their friends, or just browsing the web for something interesting. But the net isn't an entirely safe place; some people out there are waiting to take advantage of you and invade your privacy. There are some special kinds of computer program that can help to protect yourself against such threats. Let's see how a simple free spyware remover program can help.

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